Halloween

Customs and superstitions gathered through the ages into our celebration of Halloween, or, Holy Eve, on October 31. The day is so called because it is the eve of the festival of All Saints, but many of the beliefs and observances connected with it arose before Christian Era, in the autumn festivals of pagan peoples. The ancient Druids had a three-day celebration at the beginning of November. On the eve before, they believed ,spirits of the dead roamed abroad, and they lighted bonfires to drive them away. In ancient Rome the festivals of Pomona, goddess of fruits and gardens, occurred at about this time of the year. It was an occasion of rejoicing with the harvest ;and nuts and apples ,as symbols of the winter store of fruit, were roasted before huge bonfires. Even after November 1 became a Christian feast, honoring all saints, the peasants clug to the old pagan beliefs and customs that had grown up about Halloween. It became a night of mystery and fun making, with many picturesque superstitions. Folk came to believe that they could fortell the future on that night by performing such rites as jumping over the lighted candles. In the British Isles great bonfires blazed. Laughing bands of „guisers, young people disguised in grotesque masks and carrying lanterns carved from turpins, gathered in each village. Their rollicking fun and cherished superstitions are described in Robert Burns's famous poem "Halloween". Halloween celebrations today keep many of these customs unchanged. Young and old still gather to hunt nuts and to duck for apples bobbing in a tub of water. Grinning, pumpkin in jack "o'-lanterns, rustling cornstalks, and white "sheet figures create an air of mystery, and black paper witches and cats are used for party decorations. Halloween is a favourite, special day for school celebrations, when people hold costume parties, play old fashioned games, and give clever plays and pageants based on the ancient customs. Frequently whole communities gather for a Halloween festival, as did the villagers of earlier days.
/from Compton's Encyclopedia,12thvol,page 12/

Drawing by Edely Dan
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